Tips for student success

Online learning transfers much of the responsibility of learning to the student. That is, students will need to be self-motivated and have strong time-management and communication skills in order to be successful.

Things to consider when recruiting and enrolling students

Consider the following:

  • Time-management skills are necessary to handle the responsibility of self-pacing.
  • Self-motivation skills are required to remain on track and engaged without constant guidance from a teacher.
  • Self-reflection skills enable students to understand why they are falling behind. (Am I not spending enough time on the content, or do I not understand what is being taught?)
  • Students must have the ability and willingness to learn independently since students may have little occasion to interact with peers.
  • Strong reading and writing skills are needed to comprehend content, synthesize information, follow directions, and more.
  • Students must recognize learning strategies that support success (for example, note-taking, self-questioning).
  • Effective communication skills are necessary for communicating with teachers to ask questions, receive support, and stay on pace.
  • Basic technical skills are required to navigate the course, web links, and additional content and learning tools.

Tips for students 

Mentors may want to provide the following tips to students:

  • Watch the Orientation Video (
  • Maintain a positive, motivating learning environment.
  • Aim for 5-8 hours of studying per course, per week.
  • Take notes. Review your notes before each assessment.
  • Did you know MANY teachers allow you to use notes on tests?
  • Communicate with your virtual teacher on an ongoing basis. (Call or Email)
  • Use the online tutors often. (this is a free service)
    • Call, email, chat
    • Course content questions, note taking skills, motivation skills, learning how to study for assessments and more
  • Attend virtual study halls, office hours, and review sessions with your online teachers.
  • Take ownership of your learning.
  • Recognize the difference between falling behind because you aren’t putting in the effort and not understanding a concept.
    • Overall grade is what you have turned in (understanding the material)
    • Actual grade is taking in to account if you are behind in the course – if this is lower you will want to put in some more time in class.
  • Ask for help whenever you need it.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments.

Tips for mentors

Keep the following in mind for motivating and engaging students:

  • Provide easy access to resources: Remember that students come from all walks of life, and online learning may not come easy to all students. Providing resources that give them access to help or tutoring keeps them from being too challenged to continue.
  • Use a variety of instructional methods: Video, research projects, interactive notebooks are just a few things that you can use to mix up a lesson. All students learn differently: the more you can stray from tradition, the more engaged your learners will be.
  • Plan and organize for projects and interactive lessons: Online learning doesn’t have to be just lecture, students can work on projects and submit pictures and files related to the material. Remember to accommodate for the time difference spent in interactive lessons compared to lecture based lessons.
  • Allow learners to take control: If there is a subject that needs to be research and reported on, give students the option of how they can complete a task. For example, maybe instead of responding to a poem, they can make their own rap, song, or video.
  • Create social engagement opportunities for the class: Social and emotional learning is important for online courses. Students must be able to have social engagement opportunities with one another as well.
  • Respond with personalized feedback: Students need to know that you care about them. Feedback should be personalized for every student to let them know that you are interested in more than just their learning.
  • Show them your personality: Did you see a funny post on the weekend? Share it with your students! Students love to see that their teacher is a real person, so don’t shy away from showing off who you are.
  • Set up peer groups: Peer groups are a great way to allow students to interact with one another on a smaller group scale. Set up group conversations and topics to see students interact with one another.
  • Try to set up real-time, live interactions regularly: In addition to your office hours, make sure that students are receiving live contact from you. Setting up check in meetings with each student will allow for personal one-on-one time and will help build relationships.